Source: Martina Meier

The majority of over 2,200 scientific studies over the past 40 years show that the inclusion of ESG criteria (environmental, social and governance criteria) will not cost you returns. On the contrary, more than half of the studies show positive effects. Sustainable investments reduce reputation, corruption and environmental risks, for example. Do you have any other questions? UBS expert Karsten Güttler has the answers.

What defines “sustainable investments”?

A sustainable investment achieves the same performance as a conventional investment. The difference is that sustainable investments take into account the long-term effects on society. This is described by the technical term ESG. Figuratively speaking, an investment is like medication: it comes with an information leaflet listing the potential side effects. The aim of a sustainable investment is to minimize these side effects while providing transparency on the impact of the medication. Traditional investments tend to ignore the information leaflet altogether.

What does sustainable investment really mean and why is it worthwhile?

The world population currently consumes the resources of about 1.7 earths. But we only have one earth. As a result, it is important for us to be committed to sustainability. Each individual bears responsibility – for the planet and for future generations. If we look at the performance of sustainable investments, we can see that they perform at least as well, and in many cases even better, than traditional investments. Financially and socially, there is therefore much to be said for sustainable investments.

Sustainable Investing at a glance

Would you like to find out more about sustainable investing? UBS has summarized the most important information for you.

Are we talking about a short-lived trend or a long-term movement?

When I look at how my teenage daughter has taken part in the “Fridays for Future” protests, I can safely say that this is something that will last. Companies and investors will find a different clientele in the future. This generation is proactively demanding that we become more ecologically aware and less egocentric. I believe that the shift towards sustainable products and services has only just begun. The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced this trend and emphasized the vulnerability and interconnectedness of the economy and society. It has shown us that the growing push towards sustainability cannot be ignored.

What do investors have to pay attention to when buying sustainable products?

Whether an investment is sustainable or traditional, it must always perform well. The key factors are risk, returns, liquidity and costs. When opting for sustainable investments, the investor must also consider which values are important to them. For example, does it matter if a company pays minimum wages, or that female workers have the same salaries as their male colleagues? You choose the investment according to your personal preferences and values. On the other hand, not every single aspect that you regard as sustainable will be feasible all the time. Even if you focus on sustainability as an investor, you have to be able to make compromises – that’s how things work in the real world.

What investment instruments does UBS offer clients who want to invest sustainably?

Our core products include sustainable investment funds. We offer a selection of various equity and bond solutions that are optimized in terms of both the return profile and the sustainability profile. One example is the Long Term Themes equity fund, which invests in companies concerned with sustainable megatrends such as the consequences of population growth, aging and urbanization.

For investors looking for a broadly diversified investment strategy fund with a focus on sustainability and which matches their individual risk profile, the recently repositioned UBS Strategy Funds Sustainable are an attractive option. As the name suggests, these funds are structured and managed with express consideration for sustainability goals.

UBS Vitainvest investment funds also offer sustainable pension solutions that combine the benefits of our established Vitainvest investment funds with the advantages of sustainable investments. Sustainable investing is especially appropriate when saving for your retirement, because both the investments and its effects are, by definition, long term.

Which sustainability products can be expected in the future?

The expansion of sustainable investments is one of the central themes of UBS’s corporate strategy. There will be new solutions to address sustainability issues across all asset classes. In defining these new products, we look, for example, at the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, the CO2 footprint and sustainability ratings. We are planning to launch green bonds, new topic-based investment solutions in the areas of health and the environment, as well as other sustainable ETFs.

Who are sustainable investments suitable for?

Sustainability is suitable for everyone.

When should I start investing?

The general rule is: the sooner the better. But of course it depends on your individual situation in life. If a client wants to build a house in five years’ time, then they should not choose an investment with a high proportion of shares. This is precisely why it’s worth obtaining advice from UBS. We work together with our clients to define which investment solution best suits their current situation.

Make an appointment for the UBS Financial Check

If you want your financial planning to be in line with your personal situation and goals, and you appreciate practical tips, it is best to arrange a free UBS Financial Check. You choose whether you want the meeting held remotely via video link or at your nearest UBS branch. We’ll give you non-binding advice on how to optimize your financial situation and benefit from higher potential returns.